Page images
PDF
EPUB

the same Baron, which he is said to have used 28 Edw. In anno 1300. [To be concluded in our next.]

H.

[ocr errors]

ART. III A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Archdeaconry

of Rochetter, in the Year 1779. By John Law, D. D. Archdeacon of Rochester. 400. is. Payne, &c. T is an unequivocal proof of the progress of a liberal spirit,

in the present times, that so many of our clergy adopt, and have the courage openly to avow, the principles of universal toleration. There are, we are persuaded, not a few respectable names among this Reverend body, who, with the judicious and candid Author of this Charge, have not opposed the late measures for the extension of religious liberty, merely from a deference to legislative authority, but from a conviction that these indulgences were justly granted:' and who assure themselves, ' that this liberal, tolerating disposition, will secure to them the public esteem, instead of subjecting them to the groundless charge of inattention to the cause of genuine christianity.'

It is the intention of this Charge, to vindicate the equity and propriety of the late acts of the legislature, in favour of Proteftant Diflenters and Roman Catholics.

Dr. Law, at the same time that he acknowledges the neceflity of rigorous measures with respect to the Roman Catholics at the beginning of the Reformation, when the revival of persecution, and the destruction of civil liberty, would have been the probable consequences of indulgence, judges it perfectly reasonable, that the severity of the laws against them should be relaxed, when the political dangers arising from Popery are removed. • Let a distinction (says he) be always observed between the political and religious tenets of a party, and where they are not so necessarily joined, as to prove hostile or dangerous to a state, the toleration of the latter is surely warranted by every rule of distributive justice and general benevolence. Nor, if experience is to be our guide, need we fear any great political inconveniences from the allowance of the Romith worship, fince we find that this has been long admitted, without any ap. parent ill consequences, among the zealous Protestants in Holland and America.'

With respect to Protestant Diffenters, Dr. Law pleads for them, both on the ground of equity and gratitude.- As the happy restoration of civil liberty at the Revolution had been effected by the joint efforts of the members of the Church of England, and of those who diflented from it, was it not fit, independently of other arguments, that as each party had been equally zealous in the recovery of legal rights, each should be equally intitled to every privilege compatible with the security

3

of

of the state? And, as it is well known, that no privileges are more highly esteemed, than those which relate to the exercise of religion, had not the Dissenters a claim, from gratitude, to be indulged in a liberal toleration of their modes of religious worship.

To the objection, that withdrawing subscription to articles of faith, is removing the strongest barrier against false doctrines, heresy, and schism, our Author makes this manly and judicious reply :

• However a subscription to our articles of religion might seem, in theory, an adequate mean to prevent the rise and in: cursions of error, and to guard the boundaries of religious truth, yet, in fact, neither of these ends was answered by it. The non-subscribing teacher was indeed subject to heavy penalties for his wilful contempt and disobedience; but fo unreasonable did it appear to inflict these penalties upon him, that scarce. ly an instance can be heard, of late, of their be ng put in force; and if the diffenting ministers and sehool-masters had not publicly complained of cruelty, in being subject to such heavy punishments, it is more than probable that the very subscription required from them would have been unknown to the generality of their own persuasion, as well as to those within our pale. Whenever, then, a law ceases to operate to its intended design, whether from the general disapprobation of it, or from its supposed inexpedience, there cannot, I think, be any great hazard in repealing it; especially, if a part of the community solicit its reversal, and the part withing its continuance admit that they have regularly declined to carry it into execution. If laws are not observed, and we think it prudent not to enforce them, to what purpose are they retained ? For, in general, it may be observed, and particularly on this occasion, that nothing tends more effectually to abate the reverence due to our laws, than the formal maintenance of such of them, as, from a change of circumstances, are not only allowed, but even wilhed, to be transgressed with impunity.--Admitting then, that the Diflenters differ from us in some points which we deem effential, yet have they not heretofore as freely propagated their heterodox opinions, whilst exposed to the terrors of the law, as they possibly can in future, when ex-, empted from them? And if no mischief has ensued from an utter relaxation of legal coercion, can more be apprehended from the removal of it? Truth wanis not for its defence the sanction of pains and penalties, but may be confidently trusted to its own efficacy.'

From this frank acknowledgment of the rights of toleration, we cannot help entertaining an expectation, that the same liberal principles will lead our Author to question, what he seems at I 3

present

present inclined to maintain, the necessity of subscription to particular articles of faith in the establilhed church, and of Test Acts, to exclude Diflenters from places of civil trust. For there seems no reason to expect, that subscriptions will be more efficacious ' to prevent the rise and incursions of error, and guard the boundaries of truth, or to preserve the common people from being distracted by a variety of opinions,' within the pale of the church, than without it; and there appears to be a manifest injustice, in excluding peaceable and useful members of society from places of trust in the government which they contribute to support, on account of opinions or practices which are not inimical to the state.

e

[ocr errors]

Art. IV. Military Memoirs of Great Britain: or, A Hiftory of the

War 1755 1763, with elegant Copper-plates. By David Ramsay. 8vo. Edinburgh, printed for the Author. 1779.

HIS volume contains an account of the principal events

that occurred during the course of the last war, collected, as the Author informs us, from the Gazettes, published by both nations -- most of the periodical publications--SmolJet's History of England - Entick's History of the late War

Molyneux’s Conjunct Expeditions --Lloyd's History of the German War 1756 and 1757-Orme's Military Transactions of the British Nations in Indoftan Annual Register, &c. &c.' The work will serve to give a general idea of the transactions of that busy period, in a manner that may prove satisfactory to those who do not desire to investigate matters with a scrupulous degree of attention; but it will not, we imagine, be equally acceptable to those who wish to penetrate the fecrets of the cabinet, or to see the characters of the principal actors in these events, pourtrayed in lively and discriminating colours. In the first department, we meet with little more than a succinct recital of the oftensible motives for action, that have been made public by the several actors themselves, or their partizans ; and in the last, few touches of general praise or disapprobation, which are not so appropriated as to conftitute a particular likeness. The narrative is in general concise, and the style unembarrassed, though not entirely free from provincial idiomatic phrases. But in fome cases, the Au.' thor aflumes a sort of enigmatic mysteriousness, which must be considered as a very material blemish in a work chiefly calculated for the use of thole only who want to be informed, not puzzled.

As a specimen of the work, we select the following account of the state of parties in the British court, in the year 1757.

a

As

• As the politics of this period were complicated and mysterious, it will be necessary, in order to form an idea of them, to delineate the characters of the different parties who laid claim to the direction of state affairs. They consisted of three different factions. The firft, highly respectable as to rank and fortune, poffeffed of a considerable thare of parliamentary intereft, and the greatest fway with the manied people, was composed of those who had grown into place and power under the old ministry, Their adulation, and courtly complaisance, had likewise rendered them greatly respected by the king; but in some very material points their weakness was conspicuous; they were deficient in popularity, and their political abilities were but indifferent. The second faction, though superior in point of abilities, was possessed of less parliamentary interest, and much more unpopular than the first. They derived their power from their influence at one court *, by means of a then powerful connection; but which only tended to make them less respected with the other court, and even added to their unpopularity.--The third party had little influence in parliament, and less at court; but they possessed, in the highest degree, the confidence and support of the people. The shining abilities of their leader, and his steady adherence to an upright, disinterested conduct, claim. ed veneration, even from his opponents. These factions differed extremely in the general (cheme of politics. The two first agreed in opinion, that the increafing power of France was much to be dreaded ; that it was absolutely necessary to maintain a balance of power; and that this was to be done chiefly, by keeping up a close connection with the powers of the continent, by espousing their quarrels, and even assisting them with troops if required. This furnished an argument for a standing army ; and though they thought the navy Ihould by no means be neglected, yet it only ought to be employed in subserviency to the continental system. In their opinions of constitutional liberty they were likewise fingular. Though they pretended to be faunch friends to the liberties of the people, yet, as government must be supported, they looked upon it as justifiable to secure a majority in Parliament, by creating many lucrative places and em

Can any thing be more ridiculous than this air of mysterious fecrecy in a work evidently calculated for the young and ignorant only? How many, among such readers, will be puzzled to discover who were the principal persons meant to be included in each of these factions, which wouid have been entirely cleared up by naming, as is usual, the parties from their leaders--Newcastle, Byte, and Pitt. Os could any barm have arisen from mentioning, in plain terms, the court of the Prince of Wales, -although an apolagy would perbaps have been unnecessary for applying the term COURT in this intance.

ployments

TA

ployments at the disposal of the crown; alleging, as a palliation of this mode of ruling, that the particular form of our government, and the general depravity of mankind, rendered any other less excep-, tionable method impracticable.

• The third, and popular party, was actuated by principles of a different nature. They viewed, indeed, the increasing power of France, in the fame light with the two former, and acquiesced in the necessity of setting bounds to it; but they differed widely in the means to be used for that purpose. They were for making the military operations of Great Britain entirely subservient to our naval strength, as a more natural, fafer, and Jess expensive plan of politics. Our fituation as an island, said they, points out to us a conduct different from that of other

The sea is our natural element, and to quit that, and involve ourselves in continental quarrels, is acting diametrically opposite to our real interests. The superiority of France lies entirely on the continent, and the atracking her on that side would be evidently dangerous, and like (to use a strong, though vulgar expresion) taking a bull by the horn. Our government, they faid, itood in no need of support from a standing army, which was ever dangerous to freedom; and that a well trained militia would prove our best protection against an invasion. From a higher notion of human nature, they judged it possible to infiuence the minds of men by nobler motives than that of intereft. A minister who governs uprightly, will never be opposed by the people.'

Our Author seems really, and honestly, to think that Mr. Pitt was in very deed what he pretended to be, and to believe, in good earnest, that the British Parliament were actually sincere and unanimous in the character they all agreed to give of that great man after his death. If so, Mr. R. is certainly ill qualiħed to develope the intrigues of the cabinet, The ministry, before Mr. Pitt's administration, were weak enough, in truth; but we never heard that they were so exceedingly weak, as to avow the principles we have distinguished by italics, although there is no doubt that both they, and Mr. Pitt, and every ad. ministration since, and before them, for half a century past, have privately adopted those principles, and pursued that mode of conduct.' Mr. Pitt had abilities sufficient to persuade the nation, at large, that his opponents were acluated by motives which their own imbecility hardly enabled them to discover, and to make them believe, that he alone was poflefied of some excellent qualities, to which no other politician could, with justice, lay claim. A well-informed historian would do justice to his abilities-- although he would often find occafion to condemn him in other relpects.--But the time is not, perhaps, yet come, for an impartial history of that period,

Mr.

« PreviousContinue »